Cantabrians left vulnerable: 24-Hour Surgery closes tonight due to staffing crisis

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Aug 26, 2023 |

Christchurch’s only 24-hour surgery will shut its doors tonight, despite Saturday being among its peak operational evenings.

The facility on Madras Street closed between midnight and 8am on Thursday, and will close again tonight, Saturday 26 August, Wednesday 30 August, Thursday 31 August and Sunday 3 September.

General Manager Patient and Provider Services, Lisa Brennan, said ““we are currently facing nursing shortages and have had to schedule closures to ensure that we have enough nurses available to provide a safe service during our busier times.

“Funding has been slower to reach nurses working in the community and general practice.

“We have had nurses leave to work in hospitals and we are not able to compete with the wages they offer.

Unfortunately, there will be more closures while our nursing shortage continues.”

“A slow moving tsunami”

Christchurch based Accent Health Recruitment general manager Prudence Thomson​ said “the clinic offered a fantastic service, but they were victims of a world wide nursing shortage.

Thompon, who is a registered nurse and has an extensive background recruiting overseas candidates, said they’re not alone.

Prudence Thomson

“Just getting nurses in the community and to take up unattractive overnight shifts is really tough.

“It’s a bit of a slow moving tsunami. We’ve seen a great change with Immigration New Zealand, and they’re doing a good job.

However, Thomson noted that the situation was exacerbated by the Nurses Council, which takes up to 75 days to process overseas qualified nurses.

They need more man power. In comparison the Medical Council’s processing time was about 30 day.

The Nurses Council didn’t respond to questions by Chris Lynch Media

“The other main issue was that night shifts just aren’t all that fun. Nurses are often mums and there’s no big incentives to work these shifts. It’s really tough. And nurses with appropriate acute experience? They’re just not around.”

Thomson said her company had been recruiting in South Africa and Singapore, but it just takes time.

We need more Kiwis to become nurses”.

Did disruptive mid-pandemic restructuring make it worse?

National Party Health spokesman Dr. Shane Reti

National Party Health spokesman Dr. Shane Reti said “this health workforce challenge has been escalating for years, with Labour turning a blind eye.

“Despite Labour’s disruptive mid-pandemic restructuring, their blue-sky initiatives have not addressed the sector’s core issues.

The fallout? Cantabrians, especially those unwell or injured, are bearing the brunt.”

He further highlighted that the after-hours services reductions aren’t novel for Christchurch.

Dr Reti said “our mission is clear – redress the health workforce shortage,” he said, outlining plans that include student loan repayments for nurses and midwives committing five years, enticing international nurses with substantial relocation grants, and augmenting the number of doctors annually.

“As we inch closer to the elections, our health policies will gain further clarity,” Dr. Reti promised, emphasising the critical role of healthcare professionals.

“The unsustainable workloads they bear are culminating in immense stress and burnout.

“A radical transformation is imperative, and a National government pledges to spearhead this change.”

Minister of Health Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall provided a short written statement to Chris Lynch Media.

“Pegasus Health is a privately-run 24-Hour surgery.  Te Whatu Ora has put contingency plans in place such as rostering on additional doctors to help manage additional patients to make sure people get the care they need.

Christchurch Hospital’s Emergency Department continues to provide emergency care 24/7, with priority given to those with the most urgent requirements” the minister said.

Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury responds

Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury and Te Tai o Poutini West Coast Planning and Funding Interim Executive Director Greg Hamilton said Christchurch Hospital’s Emergency Department will continue to offer emergency care 24/7, with priority given to those with the most urgent requirements.

“If people don’t need immediate emergency care, we encourage them to access appropriate alternative care options.

“We encourage people to call their usual general practice or speak to their local pharmacist for health advice.

People can Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for advice on what to do and where to go if they do need to be seen urgently.  There are a number of services available for people with non-urgent health problems, if they can’t get in to see their usual general practice team.”


“Minor injuries and illnesses like colds, coughs, fevers and mild COVID-19 can be treated safely at home. Check out the free advice available on Healthify in the Health A to Z

Hamilton said “people can visit to learn more about the healthcare choices available to them.

Hamilton encouraged people to “consider a virtual appointment with a NZ-registered Doctor who can give advice and prescriptions etc online via phone, laptop or other device, from the comfort of your own home ( 

“Free health advice is available 24/7 from Healthline on 0800 611 116. Your local pharmacy can advise on over-the-counter medications and treatments including pain management. Most Canterbury pharmacies are also offering free advice and where applicable, free medicines for certain minor health conditions for eligible people. See more:

Many GPs can issue repeat prescriptions over the phone or online.If you have a sprain or injury, you can go straight to a physio without a referral – they can register an ACC claim, and organise X-rays and specialist referrals. A reminder, if you have a life-threatening emergency, do not hesitate, call 111” Hamilton said.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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